Coffee Beer: The Beloved Bean Meets the Beloved Brew!

In The Imbibery and Distillery by Christine McKellar

 Local Brewery And Coffee House Craft A Delightful Coffee Beer

It used to be I enjoyed a brandy, coffee and Baily’s in the winter months but the sugar content, combined with the caffeine, put me over and on the edge. Nowadays, when I order my new favorite winter cocktail; coffee and vodka with half and half cream, I get  either a raised brow and a request to repeat the order or I hear the comment, “I’ve never heard of that before!”

I have even been known to joke that this unusual caffeine and alcohol concoction could possibly make me a wide-awake drunk—but in researching this article I’ve discovered that really isn’t very funny after all. Monster drinks and energy drinks combined with alcohol have caused a lot of concern due to the excessive amounts of caffeine that stimulate the brain and the alcohol that causes motor impairment. Whereas the caffeine content of coffee and sodas generally ranges between 35-60 mg per serving, certain energy drinks blow the top off the caffeine chart with over 200 mg per serving.

The good news? I’m not here to lecture about the pros and cons of mixing stimulants. I’m here to talk about beer! Coffee beer to be precise. It was only a matter of time before someone decided that the beloved bean was as good as any berry when making a great brew. A local brewery, Tenaya Creek Brewery, offers a limited release batch of coffee beer during the holiday season. According to brew master Anthony Gibson the annual brew is extremely popular.

“People wonder why we don’t make it all year round,” says Gibson. “When we do a keg it’s gone in like two days. We start with a core beer and make a cold brew or cold toddy using locally roasted beans from Sunrise Coffee House.

“We take recommendations from the head roaster, Mike Pfrimmer, on what’s new and what flavor of coffee berry is compatible with beers we pick for the base. We infuse the high strength coffee directly into the keg. Our Hauling Oats Oatmeal Stout has a lot of coffee espresso flavors already built into it.”

The reason Tenaya Creek Brewery doesn’t produce this popular product year round is due to space limitations and ongoing production schedules, according to Gibson. “We’re a month away from opening our new 13,000-square-foot facility downtown. Once we get that up and running we should be able to do some of these one-off beers in bottles and kegs for distribution to multiple accounts.”

Joshua Walter, owner of Sunrise Coffee House, is an avid fan of the seasonal coffee beer. “The beer doesn’t taste strongly of coffee,” he says. “A very small concentrated amount of coffee syrup is added to the brew. It makes it sweeter and gives it more body. It’s really interesting how the flavor translates. It has a huge impact on the palate.”

I can already see that coffee beer is going to have a huge impact on my holiday imbibing next year. Rather than taking risks associated with too much caffeine in my alcohol I can look forward to enjoying a couple of these artfully crafted beers while still satisfying my coffee-and-cocktail craving. –Christine McKellar